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Walk among whimsical, abstract art on shady, green University of Arizona campus

Walk among whimsical, abstract art on shady, green University of Arizona campus

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A stroll among the red-brick buildings on the shady, grassy University of Arizona campus is a chance to get some exercise and discover whimsical, powerful, perspective-challenging art.

More than 40 outdoor public-art pieces — abstract and realistic sculptures, mosaics, memorials and public spaces — punctuate the UA campus.

Public art makes a visual impact and makes campus “an interesting, unique place to be,” says Kristen Schmidt, registrar at the UA Museum of Art, which is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the art.

The art helps stimulate conversation — not everyone sees the same thing in a piece — and can help create a critical-thinking dialogue, says Schmidt.

Public art also establishes landmarks and identity, she says. UA catalogs and reports often bear images of public art.

Without students, classes or activities, the campus is quiet. Most people seen walking on campus are respecting social distancing and wearing masks.

If you’re itching to get out of the house, we’ve put together a walking tour of public art of various styles. The route is a little over 2 miles and will take about an hour and 15 minutes to complete, depending on how long you linger at and contemplate each piece.

There’s plenty of free parking. Parking in the Second Street Garage, just east of Mountain Avenue, puts you by the Student Union Memorial Center and near the first walking tour stop at the center of the roundabout at Mountain Avenue and James E. Rogers Way.

People walk by the USS Arizona Tile Piece in front of the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd., in Tucson, Ariz. on May 19, 2020. The USS Arizona Title Piece, created by Susan Gamble, has roughly 1,500 military-style identification tags dedicated to sailors who were aboard the USS Arizona in December of 1941.

1. USS Arizona Tile Piece

Artist: Susan Gamble

This USS Arizona Memorial sculpture resembles a ship’s mast with U.S. and Arizona flags and features 1,511 military-style identification tags — aka dog tags — one for each of the sailors who were on the USS Arizona, Dec. 7, 1941, when it went down at Pearl Harbor. Each tag is imprinted with the name of a sailor and they create a gigantic wind chime.

Walk to the next stop: About 50 steps to the east, south of the Second Street Garage and north of the Student Union Memorial Center.

Every time you look at UAspire #1 in front of the Second Street Garage at the University of Arizona, you find something you didn’t see before.

2. UAspire #1

Artist: Susan Gamble

An “A”, of sorts, soars into the sky. Every time you look at this piece you find something you didn’t see before.

Walk: Head east about 170 steps north of Second Street Garage between the Student Union and the Administration building.

A biker rides behind the University of Arizona sculpture Glyph, a sleek piece from Donald Haskin influenced by early Native American petroglyphs.

3. Glyph

Artist: Donald Haskin

This sleek piece influenced by early Native American petroglyphs is nestled in a desert-scape.

Walk: Continue further east about 250 steps to the walkway between the Administration and Modern Languages buildings to the edge of the grassy Mall.

A pedestrian walks his dog by “The Wildcat Family” statue in front of the University of Arizona Administration building, 1200 E. University Blvd., Tucson, Ariz. on May 24, 2020. The Wildcat Family sculpture was created by Nicholas Wilson.

4. The Wildcat Family

Artist: Nicholas Wilson

A 12-foot tall bronze of four bobcats lounge together.

Walk: East along the north side of the Mall about 440 steps to the front of the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, 1601 E. University Blvd., on the northeast corner of North Cherry Avenue.

The sculpture “Babe from Space,” in front of the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, depicts a space rock supported by a metal base on the UA campus.

5. Babe from Space

Artist: Donald Haskin

A metal abstract of a space rock supported by base legs appears to have landed in the grassy area near the entrance of Flandrau.

Check the time with the human sundial a few steps away from “Babe from Space.”

Walk: Continue east about 450 steps to the entrance of the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, 1737 E. University Blvd.

Light shines on a reflective sculpture titled “Reflexivity” in front of The University of Arizona Stevie Eller Dance Theater, 1727 E. University Blvd., in Tucson, Ariz. on May 20, 2020. Reflexivity was created by Dennis Jones.

6. Reflexivity

Artist: Dennis Jones

See yourself in this sculpture, which literally reflects its surroundings.

While you’re there, look northwest into the wellness garden: Can you spot the unicorn?

Walk: Take about 235 steps east to the east edge of the Mall along East University Boulevard at North Campbell Avenue.

If the UA campus does not host in-person classes this fall semester, international students would have to transfer to a school that does or possibly lose their student visas.

7. Curving Arcades (Homage to Bernini)

Artist: Athena Tacha

You’ve probably zipped by Curving Arcades as you’ve driven down Campbell Avenue. However, when you stand near it and wander through the 15 inverted pieces that resemble wishbones (or clothes pins) colors appear to change and glimmer.

Walk: About 325 steps along the south side of the Mall on University Boulevard and north of the Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion at the north end of McKale Memorial Center.

A pedestrian walks by the Wildcats statue in front of The Jim Click Hall of Champions, 1766 E. University Blvd.

8. Wildcats

Artist: Mark Rossi

Wildcats frolic next to the Rocky LaRose Legacy Lane walkway.

Walk: Further west along the Mall about 500 steps to the front of the University of Arizona Main Library, 1510 E. University Blvd.

The sculpture Another Martyr No. 4, by artist Fritz Scholder, evokes questions and discussion, such as whether it honors Native Americans or reinforces stereotypes.

9. Another Martyr No. 4

Artist: Fritz Scholder

This a sculpture that evokes questions and discussion, such as whether it honors Native Americans or reinforces stereotypes.

As you leave the plaza at the entrance of the library, peek through the fencing into the Student Success District that’s under construction, see if you can spot Girl with the Doves by David Wynne.

Walk: Continue west on the south side of the Mall about 435 steps to the front of the Henry Koffler Building, 1340 E. University Blvd.

A dog walks in front of a well known sculpture titled “25 Scientists” in front of the Henry Koffler building at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. on May 24, 2020. 25 Scientists, created by George Greenamye, reflects the different types of sciences studied inside the building.

10. 25 Scientists

Artist: George Greenamyer

This whimsical, site-specific piece reflects the workings in the building it represents. How many of the sciences depicted in the piece can you name?

Walk: About 225 steps to the north into the Mall, south of the Student Union and east of Old Main.

The USS Arizona Mall Memorial on the University of Arizona campus honors the marines and sailors on the USS Arizona who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

University of Arizona art walk: USS Arizona Mall Memorial

11. USS Arizona Mall Memorial

The memorial honors the 1,177 Marines and sailors who lost their lives on Dec. 7, 1941, on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Within a 597-foot long, 97-foot wide outline of the USS Arizona, the memorial includes 1,177 bronze medallions that are inscribed with the name, rank and home state of those who lost their lives. The flagpole of the memorial is in line with the bell tower in the Student Union, which is home to one of the bells that was salvaged from the ship.

Walk: North about 50 steps toward the south-facing wall of the Student Union bookstore, 1209 E. University Blvd.

A pedestrian walks past an art piece titled “Those Who Gave their Lives” at the Student Union Memorial Center, 1209 E. University Blvd, at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. on May 19, 2020. Those Who Gave Their Lives was created by Philips Sanderso.

12. Those Who Gave Their Lives

Artist: Philips Sanderson

As you leave the USS Arizona memorial, look up the west to spot the bas-relief under the building-name signage. Look to the east to see the original USS Arizona bell in its belfry.

Walk: About 950 steps through the Student Union breezeway east of the book store, through the roundabout, go east on Second Street and head north on Olive Road to the open space in front of Marroney Theatre, 1025 N. Olive Road, in the UA Fine Arts Complex.

13. Front Row Center

Artist: Barbara Grygutis

The environmental work represents the performing arts in visual art. Large, whimsical chairs and tiled benches nestled in trees, create an ideal spot to wait for a theater or music performance. The canopy on the Marroney Theater features an original Macintosh computer, a paintbrush, instruments, a sewing machine and other props and objects relevant to the fine arts.

Look around the theater, music and art buildings and you’ll spot several other pieces, including:

  • Hamlet by artist William Arms — Near the southeast corner of the Marroney Theatre
  • Standing Woman by artist Francisco Zuniga — North of the Marroney Theatre, near the entrance to the UA Museum of Art, 1031 N. Olive Road
  • Lesson of a Disaster by artist Jacques Lipchitz — UA Museum of Art entrance

Walk: About 400 steps south on the east side of Olive Road, north of Second Street near the Richard A. Harvill Building.

The “Border Dynamics” sculpture came to the UA in 2003 and sits in front of the Richard A. Harvill building.

14. Border Dynamics

Artists: Alberto Morackis and Guadalupe Serrano

Giant metal humans, painted to look like raw meat, push against both sides of a border fence, in this powerful piece that generates dialogue and debate. The original 2003 concept had the figures leaning on the actual border fence. But concerns about border security caused the project to be scrapped on the U.S. side.

Walk: About 500 steps east on Second street and to the roundabout and the Second Street Garage.

* Step count is not precise and offered only as an estimate of distance.

Ann Brown is a former reporter and editor at the Star.

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